Pacific Swell

Southern California environment news and trends

California Drought News: Nosy about groundwater drilling, and nudging your neighbor to save

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Monday's news is nosy about your neighbor — and your neighbors' groundwater drilling.

  • More great reporting from the Sacramento Bee on anachronistic problems of transparency in how we manage water in California. Even some well drillers now favor more transparency for groundwater "well logs":
In all other Western states, such records are accessible to whomever wants to see them – from university professors to civil engineers, real estate agents to the media. But in California, well logs are barred from public inspection by a 63-year-old law written to keep data gathered by well-drilling companies from falling into the hands of competitors. “The lack of information about well logs makes no sense, particularly as we are trying hard to manage a diminishing public trust resource,” said Jeffrey Mount, senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, a nonpartisan think tank in San Francisco. “This is another one of those anachronistic statutes that does not belong in a modern water management system,” Mount said. (Sacramento Bee)
  • Nearly 90 percent of the $700 million in "emergency drought relief" money authorized by the governor a few months ago is yet to be spent. But, as our public radio colleague Ben Adler reports, that's not necessarily as bad as it sounds. Grants take time. (Capital Public Radio)
  • The secret new trend in water district conservation isn't cops, it's guys who make "water-wise house calls":
One out of every four households has a leak of some sort, usually something as simple as a loose toilet flapper, [water district spokeswoman] Figueroa said. "Leaks are common," she added. "Don't be embarrassed." (SJ Mercury News)
  • The New York Times reports on how Californians are tracking their neighbors' usage deep into the drought. Ian Lovett explores Twitter-based shower-shaming (a phenomenon this blog noticed some months ago), ratting your neighbor out for violating restrictions and other guilt-based behavioral nudges. About our region, he writes:
Most homes in Southern California have already been outfitted with efficient shower heads, toilets and garden hoses, making it harder for residents to significantly reduce their water consumption than it was during the last severe drought a quarter-century ago. (NYT)

And how has your community been affected by the drought? Share your story with a photo on Twitter or Instagram. Tag it #mydrought. For more details on our photo project, click here.

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